September 13, 2021
In the current state of the luxury watch market, few if any categories are hotter than integrated bracelet steel sports watches. Brands from nearly every corner of the industry have spent the last several years refining takes on this sports-luxe formula, but nearly all of these designs have deep stylistic roots in designer Gerald Genta’s work in the early ‘70s for brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. With this in mind, most of the current crop of integrated bracelet designs share more than a passing likeness to each other, but Bell & Ross has consistently bucked the trend with its work on the integrated-bracelet BR 05 series. Confidently designed as a square peg for a round — or oftentimes octagonal — hole, the BR 05 has found great success in the past few years by keeping the French marque’s signature square look alive in a more polished, luxe context. For its latest release, Bell & Ross aims to expand the series with a useful GMT complication, while keeping the look close to the core three-hand model. By sticking close to the already distinctive BR05 look and cleanly integrating its complication, the new Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT offers a compellingly sleek and functional showcase of the brand’s bold design work.
Measuring in at 41mm, the stainless steel case of the Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT bridges the gap between the 40mm three-hand model and the 42mm BR 05 Chronograph. As with its stablemates, this is a case that boldly announces itself on the wrist, with a relatively tall profile complementing the rounded-square form. Despite the sense of wrist presence, the BR 05 GMT is far from an overwhelming wearing experience thanks to its short, sharply downturned lugs and integrated bracelet design. The polished, chamfered facets along the case and bezel also perform double duty here, both visually breaking up the vertical case sides and giving the predominantly brushed design a sense of vibrant flash. The rounded square form of the bezel remains the centerpiece of this design, firmly establishing the BR 05 GMT’s unique silhouette while anchoring the look with familiar integrated sports watch elements like the bezel screws and wide sloping polished chamfer. Bell & Ross completes the case with a sapphire display caseback, and rates the sporty design for a decent 100 meters of water resistance.
Bell & Ross’ primary focus with the dial of the BR 05 GMT seems to be seamless integration. Beyond the red arrow-tipped GMT hand, the overall look is kept as close to the standard three-hand BR 05 as possible, rather than adding unnecessary visual complication. The result is a remarkably clean GMT design on the wrist, with the narrow black and silver 24-hour rehaut nearly disappearing at certain viewing angles and only a small red GMT badge at 6 o’clock adding to the standard dial text. The rest of the BR 05 GMT’s dial design is modern and familiar, with a blend of applied rounded Arabic numerals and brightly polished applied oval indices topped by clean paddle hands. The rounded polished frame around the 3 o’clock date window keeps the overall aesthetic intact as much as possible, but with the other oversized Arabic numerals, a no-date version would likely feel more balanced and charismatic.
Inside the Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT beats the BR-CAL.325 automatic GMT movement. Although the brand keeps technical details on this new movement close to the vest, based on its quickset “caller” GMT hand, previous releases, and naming structure the BR-CAL.325 is more than likely based on the Sellita SW330-1. With this in mind, the BR-CAL.325 likely offers performance around 42 hours of power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
Bell & Ross completes the BR 05 GMT with its integrated stainless steel bracelet. Overall fit and finishing are sharp here, with brightly polished rectangular center links contrasted by tapering H-links with aggressive vertical brushing. The stark difference in finishing between the links and the lack of rounded or chamfered corners gives this bracelet a mix of dynamic light play and a sense of modern industrial aggression on the wrist. For those looking for a less flashy option, the BR 05 GMT is also available with a tapering integrated black rubber strap featuring deep vertical grooves.
By keeping as much of the base design intact as possible and keeping its complications simple and unobtrusive, the new Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT continues the strong visual DNA of the original while introducing useful new functionality. The Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT is available now through authorized dealers at a starting MSRP of $4,900. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.